Souleymane Coulibaly became a start at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup. In just four games for Cote D'Ivoire, he scored nine goals. The Siena youth player became linked to big clubs all around the world, and Tottenham Hotspur were the ones that snatched him up. The reported fee was £1m. It took literally no time at all for fans to call for him to get a run-out.
Though it's impossible for fans of the team in the United States to take in Spurs youth games, we can get a pretty good idea of how Coulibaly is performing, and based on the official team match reports and his goal-scoring record, we get the idea that he's pretty good. As much as we can possibly see, he is living up to expectations. He has goals against top-notch foreign youth sides in the NextGen Series, and he has scored in our last two FA Youth Cup wins. The kid can finish.
And yet, he has not made the bench for Tottenham Hotspur's senior team. Not in the FA Cup, not in the Carling Cup, not in the Europa League. Fans call for him to get a run-out and it doesn't appear to be coming. I think that's a good thing.
Does anyone remember Dan Gosling's FA Cup goal against Liverpool while he was playing for Everton? How about Federico Macheda's heroics for Manchester United? How about Danny Rose ON HIS PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUT? Surely you all remember that last one. Real quick: How many of those players are current regulars in a Premier League 18-man squad? How many of them look like they will be starting for a top-half Premier League side in the near future?
Say what you want about Rose, but the answer is none of them. I, like most of you, think Rose can come good and hope that he is one day a Premier League star. But, chances are, he's just a solid player. He'll bounce around mid-table and relegation fodder teams. He's not going to play much for England.
Just like Dan Gosling is probably never going to play for England. Federico Macheda is never going to play for Italy. These guys just simply aren't that good. The question we have to ask is why these guys just aren't that good. There are a couple of possible answers, and both of them reflect poorly on fans and media.
It's very likely that none of these three guys were that great in the first place. Their physical talents and/or attitudes allowed them to excel at the youth level, but once they got to big boy football, they just didn't have that extra edge that is the difference between a star and a serviceable professional footballer. They're all young enough that they can improve, but I think it's safe to say at this point that Gosling, Macheda and Rose are worse than anyone expected them to be three years ago.
They were probably always going to be average pros who scored one great goal or a couple of great goals. At that point, the hype machine got rolling and they didn't live up to it because they were always fairly average players, by the standards of the Premiership. All of them have suffered injuries -- Gosling the worst of all -- but most players suffer bad injuries at some point. They don't make or break anyone, unless they're truly horrific.
But what if the hype broke them? What if Gosling, Macheda and Rose were on the path to stardom and handled it poorly when they were declared as future internationals while they were still teenagers? I find it much more likely that all three of them were always on the mid-level player path, but you have to admit that this is a possibility.
And that's why Tottenham Hotspur are doing the smart thing by keeping Coulibaly out of the spotlight. Away from Cup and Europa League run-outs and away from a loan deal. I am aware that this is completely speculative and that there is a decent probability that I am completely full of it, but I believe that he is at the level of Harry Kane and Tom Carroll, but he's being kept under wraps.
Personally, I think that's a good thing. He's already had to deal with the "next Drogba" nonsense, despite the fact that he's much more like Seydou Doumbia, if we must pick out one of his countrymen. I'd like to see Coulibaly completely out of the spotlight for the remainder of this year, even if he is currently at a Championship/Cup run-out level.
Even if I'm completely wrong, Harry Redknapp and his staff have a good reason for not suiting up Coulibaly for anything but youth games. They have us in a title race, so let's just assume that they know what they're doing for the time being.